Michigan Health Watch

In-depth reporting on the intersection between public policy and important health topics ‒ such as insurance coverage, hospital admissions, opioid abuse, access to care, medical research and the business of health care ‒ that impact nearly every Michigan resident. 

Articles

50 men held an Upper Peninsula retreat traced to COVID. No one’s talking.

50 men held an Upper Peninsula retreat traced to COVID. No one’s talking.

October 9, 2020 | Robin Erb

Officials said the organizer hung up on a nurse trying to warn others of possible exposure. Another person accused health officials of ‘working for Satan.’ Meanwhile, infections proliferate in the eastern U.P.

As coronavirus spreads in Michigan, racial and age disparities shrink

As coronavirus spreads in Michigan, racial and age disparities shrink

October 7, 2020 | Mike Wilkinson

In recent weeks, the coronavirus is striking more middle-age residents after disproportionately hitting younger ones. And as it moves statewide, the virus is impacting fewer African Americans.

Once a state hotspot, Detroit has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus in Michigan

Once a state hotspot, Detroit has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus in Michigan

October 6, 2020 | Olivia Lewis, Mike Wilkinson

Once a COVID hotspot, Detroit lost 1,300 people to the virus. The city and its residents fought back and say limited interactions, face masks and frequent hand-washing make the difference. Detroit now has one of the lowest rates in the state.

Whitmer order sets up COVID-positive nursing units in Michigan

Whitmer order sets up COVID-positive nursing units in Michigan

October 1, 2020 | Robin Erb

The latest executive order also loosens community dining restrictions in facilities and expands reporting requirements of coronavirus cases to include legal guardians and prospective residents or staff.

Health officials: Party on (safely) during rare Blue Moon Halloween

Health officials: Party on (safely) during rare Blue Moon Halloween

September 30, 2020 | Robin Erb

From homemade candy chutes to slipping treats across a clean table, health officials urge creativity in keeping trick-or-treat safe. 

1 in 3 U.S. parents will skip kids’ flu shots, but Michigan has early gains

1 in 3 U.S. parents will skip kids’ flu shots, but Michigan has early gains

September 28, 2020 | Robin Erb

Despite pleas from health experts to guard against flu before a COVID resurgence, some parents aren’t comfortable taking children to the doctor. But so far in Michigan, there’s a 30 percent rise in flu shots.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula getting hit hard by surge of coronavirus cases

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula getting hit hard by surge of coronavirus cases

September 24, 2020 | Mike Wilkinson

After months of relatively few cases, the Upper Peninsula has seen coronavirus case counts soar, with most in the western part of the region along the border with Wisconsin.

Surviving COVID, but with life changed, and the future less certain

Surviving COVID, but with life changed, and the future less certain

September 21, 2020 | Robin Erb

After being hospitalized with the coronavirus, many “long-hauler” patients return home with a host of serious symptoms, from brain fog to tremors and unrelenting fatigue. Longer-term complications such as dementia or organ problems are still being studied.

Michigan health officials seek to increase flu vaccines by 1M amid pandemic

Michigan health officials seek to increase flu vaccines by 1M amid pandemic

September 21, 2020 | Robin Erb

Health officials worry about a ‘twindemic’ of the flu and COVID-19, and some are getting creative about distributing vaccines as many workplaces remain closed.

Michigan infant, whose death was tied to COVID, had serious health troubles

Michigan infant, whose death was tied to COVID, had serious health troubles

September 18, 2020 | Robin Erb

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, had said the boy died “because of COVID-19.” But a medical examiner’s report lists a birth defect as the cause of death, with respiratory problems caused by COVID as a complicating factor. 

Grand Valley State students ordered to stay home to tamp down COVID-19 upswing

Grand Valley State students ordered to stay home to tamp down COVID-19 upswing

September 16, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

COVID is spreading at Grand Valley through off-campus gatherings and students who become infected aren’t saying who they’ve been hanging out with, health officials said.

In tense hearing, Whitmer official defends MI COVID nursing home strategy

In tense hearing, Whitmer official defends MI COVID nursing home strategy

September 16, 2020 | Robin Erb, Jonathan Oosting

Republican legislators accused Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s  administration of failing to adequately prepare for the pandemic. “20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing,” countered state health director Robert Gordon.

Outdoor visits now ‘expected’ at Michigan nursing homes, state says

Outdoor visits now ‘expected’ at Michigan nursing homes, state says

September 10, 2020 | Robin Erb

Michigan health officials announced that nursing homes may find ways to allow loved ones to meet with residents under certain conditions. The state also may soon approve a provision that allows family members to volunteer in homes.

Xavier DeGroat will not be stopped. Michigan autism activist goes to D.C.

Xavier DeGroat will not be stopped. Michigan autism activist goes to D.C.

September 8, 2020 | Robin Erb

DeGroat’s bulldog persistence has yielded bipartisan legislation in Lansing and a network of powerful backers. 

Michigan coronavirus caseloads haven’t budged in months. Why that’s not bad.

Michigan coronavirus caseloads haven’t budged in months. Why that’s not bad.

September 4, 2020 | Mike Wilkinson

For two months, Michigan coronavirus cases have plateaued at about 650 per day after declining for weeks. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited the caseloads in extending her state of emergency Thursday, but epidemiologists say they should induce calm, not panic, since they reflect higher testing and more asymptomatic patients.

COVID-19 vaccine race heats up with clinical trials at 3 Michigan sites

COVID-19 vaccine race heats up with clinical trials at 3 Michigan sites

September 2, 2020 | Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

Michigan Medicine, Henry Ford and a medical research center based in Farmington Hills are involved in Phase 3 clinical trials to find a safe and effective vaccine for a virus that has killed over 183,000 people in the United States.

Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14

Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14

September 1, 2020 | Robin Erb

The state’s announcement follows weeks of pressure as many parents must decide whether to send their children to school or have them learn from home. State officials did not include colleges in its decision.

Seniors from metro Detroit are aging prematurely as young become caregivers

Seniors from metro Detroit are aging prematurely as young become caregivers

August 31, 2020 | Olivia Lewis

The third edition of a longstanding report shows Detroiters are more likely to die from chronic health conditions than other Michiganders. While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared racism as a public health issue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, experts say it will take a collective effort from every sector to see change.

Michigan nears 100K coronavirus cases. Maps, graphics show pandemic’s path.

Michigan nears 100K coronavirus cases. Maps, graphics show pandemic’s path.

August 28, 2020 | Mike Wilkinson

After the crush of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths that spurred a statewide stay-at-home order, Michigan has seen case counts fall as testing has ramped up and shown positive results.

Michigan COVID-19 hospital patients got unneeded antibiotics during surge

Michigan COVID-19 hospital patients got unneeded antibiotics during surge

August 27, 2020 | Kate Wells, Michigan Radio

As the coronavirus surged through Michigan last spring, doctors often gave new patients unnecessary antibiotics as they awaited test results, resulting in resistance to antibiotics later in their hospital stays when they developed infections. 

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